I close my eyes and count.
My favorite things.
Fluffy shortcake with large, sweet and sour strawberries and slightly sweet and rich cream.
Then there’s chocolate cake, with a wonderful harmony of crunchy walnuts, and savory and rich chocolate cream.
I love chocolate. The fact that they don’t seem to have chocolate in Dardinia is a problem at the moment.
Then there’s fruit pie with seasonal fruits in a slightly sweet confiture, rich whipped cream and eggs with a hint of vanilla custard cream. This is my favorite.
Oh, the cheese souffle that melts in my mouth is also hard to beat. Freshly made, it brings tears to my eyes. I want His Highness to try this one day. I’m sure His Highness would love the taste.
It’s not just sweets.
I also love well-seasoned oden. Oh, definitely with mustard! Yuzu pepper is good too.
And then there’s the freshly baked dried horse mackerel that’s so good and fatty! White rice, miso soup and pickles are the best combination.
The tuna tail steak with lots of pepper and garlic is also great! I think a cold beer on the rocks would be heavenly bliss!
It’s not that I don’t like it when it’s warmed up. It’s great to sip on some homemade salted squid while sipping on it. Of course, this is in the middle of winter when it’s cold.
I also love work.
The air in the kitchen first thing in the morning.
The sight of the colorful fruits of the season on the polished table.
The smell of a beautifully browned apple pie.
The brightly lit interior of the restaurant, full to capacity.
The air filled with laughter and the smiles of the customers who had eaten the apple pie.
The sound of cutlery and pleasant conversation, interspersed with words of praise for the deliciousness.
I liked my house too.
It was old and had a drafty feel to it, but even so, once you live in it, it’s in a city.
I bought all the furniture and tableware I liked and made it my own.
I knew it was safe there.
On weekends, I would bake chocolate brownies in the oven at home.
I even went to my landlord to share some summer oranges from my garden with him.
I also liked the bar where I worked part-time.
There was always nova or jazz music playing.
Sometimes a musician would come to the bar to play live music.
I’m sure it was a fashionable place that I wouldn’t have set foot in if it wasn’t senpai’s shop.
My senpai’s husband, my senpai, part-timer Mr. Yamaki, and the customers were all very nice people.
Probably, everyone had their own personal problems, and even though they were sometimes full of themselves, when someone spoke out about their problems, we all faced them seriously.
I remember once we all took turns escorting a girl who was suffering from a stalker.
It helped me tremendously to be there, face-to-face with the customers and making a variety of snacks and dishes.
Sure, there was a lot to like.
There were also many unpleasant and painful things, but I couldn’t remember much anymore.
Maya’s memories are distant, and it’s becoming more and more like a thin film is being covered by them. I don’t know what it is, it’s supposed to be me, but I feel like I’m watching a video or something.
But that makes me happy.
I am Arthirea and Maya…I don’t remember much about Arthirea, but I’ve never doubted that I am Arthirea.
I’m going to cherish the current me, who is both and neither.
I will cherish this life.
I don’t need to be able to do anything.
Just that I will live in this world, in this country…Dardinia.
Maybe that’s Arthirea’s wish.
Why I’m here…I think it’s because Arthirea wished to live again.
At that winter lake.
There is a light knock on the door and a voice calls out,
”Your Highness, Your Highness.”
The door is opened.
It’s not that I’m lying down, so I don’t mind when it’s opened, but it’s a bit surprising.
I couldn’t help but ask back.
There shouldn’t have been any such thing on my schedule for today.
“Do I need a reason to come see my wife?”
In front of me was my husband, His Royal Highness Nigel Elsebard Thea Diehl Vera Dardie, my husband.
It was still chillingly cold, as usual, in peak form. His expression was very grim.
He must have come straight from the office. His clothes were outward-facing.
With a buzz, Miredei and the new apprentice maidservant are shaking their bodies.
It is rumored that His Highness has been lowering the temperature with his voice and gaze lately, which is strange because this makes it seem like that might be the case.
Since His Majesty’s death, everyone says that His Highness has changed.
The kindness of His Highness is nowhere to be found.
Even though there was no such person from the beginning.
I think he’s much closer to the real His Highness now.
I nodded deeply, though I was glad that His Highness had come to see me.
“You’re my wife!”
His Highness made my eyes flutter and clench.
My response was apparently unexpected.
“Because I’m your wife.”
“You have to properly tell me if you wanted to see me.”
His Royal Highness Nigel looked puzzled, and then smiled as if he’d been caught.
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to say it properly.”
“Yes. I’d be more than happy to hear it.”
I looked up at His Highness with a shy smile.
Even after I stood up, the height difference between us still hadn’t been reduced at all.
His Highness troublingly smiled and then dropped to his knees in front of me.
“…I missed you, Luthia.”
I was gently hugged as if dealing with a treasure.
I’m not sure if it’s His Highness’ perfume, but a citrus scent softly spreads around.
And if I am in these arms. I can feel secure that things will be okay no matter what happens.
“I missed you too, Your Highness.”
The words ‘I missed you’ come out of my mouth naturally.
It wasn’t flattery or a calculation, it was just a thought that filled me with that much.
His Highness’ shoulders shook with a jolt.
Huh? Did I miss something?
“…Is there something wrong with?”
“…It’s not fair.”
“That’s where you call me by name.”
His Highness was very serious.
I want to laugh a little, I think, but I stifle my laughter there.
Because laughing here would definitely get me in trouble.
Then I take a light, deep breath and call out the name.
A name that only I am allowed to call, and I put it on my lips.
I call that precious name with great care.
And I know that it is a very happy thing.
I nod honestly.
No matter how many times I say it, I never get used to it.
Every time I say it, it makes me happy.
Nigel-sama smiled with satisfaction.
When the new maidservant girl saw that, she looked pouty.
It can’t be helped. Nigel-sama is a wonderful person.
That’s where I’m being generous. Because I’m his wife.
I don’t say anything even if she is pouting or making a noise.
It would be a waste of time for me to get upset about such things, and I’m aware of the importance Nigel-sama places on me.
Besides, I know that Nigel-sama is very popular.
If it were Cinderella…In a fairy tale princess and prince, the curtain would be drawn here and they would live happily ever after.
I’m happy to see His Highness smile at me and it fills my heart with so much happiness.
If it were a fairy tale, this is where it would end and it would be the best ending.
But I’m not a Cinderella or fairy tale princess, so…
So there is no ending.
“I was wondering if you could have dinner with me today.”
I couldn’t help but smile at Nigel-sama’s invitation.
“I’d be glad to.”
I squeezed his neck and then let go of my body a little and looked up at Nigel-sama.
I like hugging him, but I miss being able to see Nigel-sama’s face.
“Well, I’m still in a period of mourning, so I’m not going to get much…”
“I’ll be glad just to have dinner with Nigel-sama.”
The mourning period for His Majesty the King, who passed away six months ago, is currently in progress.
His death forced the suspension of the Founding Festival and the Victory Commemoration celebrations.
Dardinia is currently in a period of national mourning.
During this period of mourning, people are required to eat moderately.
I’m a person who doesn’t mind the military’s portable rations, so I don’t think I’m going to complain about what they serve me, but he is concerned about me.
I, of course, do not eat any meals with meat or fish other than preserved food, as I am in a period of mourning.
However, my place has a wide repertoire, so there is more to Nigel-sama’s liking than what the head chef of the main palace has prepared.
Breakfast is the same! I have been practicing every day, and the feeding operation that is still secretly going on is going very well.
However, although Nigel-sama was originally busy, I was worried that he seemed to be very busy lately.
With His Majesty’s passing, the work His Majesty has been doing in the past has come around. I was told that this was a rather painful task for His Highness, who was not naturally fond of socializing.
Then there is the accompanying move to the main palace and the cleanup of the Esalkar coup d’état. The battle was won, but the sacrifice was still not zero, and the related cleanup of the exodus, reparations negotiations, and the handling of prisoners of war were happening, to name but a few. I’ve heard that the work just keeps popping up, one thing after the other.
Phil looks pale every time I see him.
“You say something happy, Luthia.”
Nigel-sama gently strokes my hair.
His gentle touch tickles me and makes me want to flutter with happiness.
Yup. I try not to act suspiciously.
I’m Nigel’s Princess.
“Ah, Your Highness, would you please go back to your office soon?”
It was Phil, who looked very uncomfortable.
“Phil-Lynn, it’s been a long time.”
“Yes. The princess seems to be doing well.”
“Yes, thanks to His Highness.”
“…Hey, how’s the habit of falling in love with that second word? Are you getting addicted already?”
I tilt my head at Phil, who is staring at me blankly with half-lidded eyes.
“It’s okay, it’s cute. I’m happy, Luthia.”
I don’t know what that means, but Nigel-sama smiled at me so I smiled at him too.
“Listen, I think I’m going to spit up sand! Why would you guys do that? When I come by and you’re with each other, you’re oozing out sweet air!”
Phil was having an unfamiliar backlash, and Nigel-Same and I looked at each other, unsure of what was going on.
“…Count Altheidel Exanidium?”
And then a cool voice sticks to Phil-Lynn in front of me.
It is exactly like the breath of an ice princess, an icy voice.
“Count Altheidel Exanidium. I have told you many times, haven’t I? I asked you not to use such abusive language just because His Highness and Princess don’t mind it.”
It was Lilia, who had gone on an errand.
She was smiling as if she was about to take three steps backwards.
In the royal palace, I’m sure you’ll find that the more you smile, the more you need to be careful.
“How many times do I have to tell you?”
“Ah, I’m sorry. Lana Hartley.”
It would be Phil-Lynn’s sincerity not to say that he won’t do it again.
Maybe he can’t be sure of that either.
“I’m the wrong person to apologize to.”
“I’m sorry, Your Highness, and Her Highness.”
We nodded as if we had received the word.
“Your Highness, Your Highness is also bad. You can’t let this language go unchecked!”
“Oh…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I’m so glad it’s just the way it used to be that I just let it be.”
“Please don’t say that unless it’s for a relative.”
His Highness nods clearly at Lilia, who states it openly with a crisp expression.
The reason why he seems somewhat amused is because there are few people who speak to His Highness like this anymore.
In two weeks, His Majesty the King’s period of provisional mourning will be over. And when the mourning period is over, the coronation ceremony will take place.
His Royal Highness will officially become His Majesty the King.
But I’m sure Phil will get angry about the same thing again.
And I’m sure Lilia can do the same with Phil-Lynn again…and in some cases give an opinion to His Highness.
Because Nigel-sama is enjoying it.
As I look at Nigel-sama’s smiling profile, I realize that I am smiling too. That makes me so happy that I notice it and smile again.
Because I live here…
In my heart, I say goodbye to those memories that I was counting earlier.
Because here is where I’ll be happy…
It’s not that I’ll forget those memories, but I’m sure they will go farther and farther away.
I wonder what it is? Nigel-sama’s voice sounded a little more serious than usual.
“No, this should be done properly.”
His Highness gently lowered me from his arms to the floor.
Then he kneels down in front of me.
What on earth is going on? His Highness, kneeling, took my right hand and placed his forehead on it.
Arthirea Luciane Thea Dis Elzevert-Dardie.
“Will you be the wife of this Nigel Elsebard Thea Diehl Vera Dardie?”
It was the language and manner of a formal proposal.
I know there is a contradiction because our marriage is already tied.
But this was uttered by Nigel, by his own will.
I am happy about that.
I’m so happy, I’m so happy, I burst into tears.
It is true that when you are truly happy, tears come to your eyes.
“Nigel Elsebard Thea Diehl Vera Dardie pledges to bet my sword and my soul, promising that I will love you alone and protect you alone.”
Then Master Nigel gently kissed my hand.
It was a simple thing without the presence of a clergyman, but the pledge was now complete.
The next moment, there was a sudden cheer.
“I’m so jealous, Princess, that you have such a wonderful proposal.”
The proposal was like something out of a fairy tale.
A girl’s dream come true.
“And to Your Highness!”
“Your Highness is very cool.”
“Congratulations, Your Highness.”
Congratulations are also heard from the maids and knights of the guard.
“…Hey, why are you doing this now? Your Highness.”
“No, I read it in a book. We’ve already been married for twelve years, and we must do these things properly. After all, we have a difference in age and our lives are very different. It is impossible to tell such a person how you feel. Besides, I must return the favor to Luthia, who has always cared for me with an open heart.”
‘It won’t last if I’m the only one who gets it,’ Master Nigel laughs. It’s a hearty smile, and I’m a little proud of myself for knowing that.
“What is it?”
Master Nigel always kneels down to be at eye level with me.
“I will stand next to Lord Nigel. I will always be with you.”
“……I love it.”
I can’t say I love you, I’ll just tell you I love it.
That was the best I could do.
My ears are hot. I’m sure I’m turning bright red.
Hey, where did all the experience of my 33 years life go all of a sudden!? I was pouting in my heart.
“Ugh, sly Princess, too sly!”
Phil-Lynn was muttering something incomprehensible with a serious expression on his face, and Nigel-sama was holding his mouth in a slump.
“That expression is a foul.”
Even though I’m so red and embarrassed.
There were no words to return, and I was hugged tightly in his arms.
End of Part 1
T/N: Thanks so much for reading part 1! In all honesty, I really got bogged down in all the confusing names, family trees, and politics for a moment, but I really liked Nigel and Arthirea as characters! Luthia is definitely a more rational character unlike the many reincarnators who seem to become more childish despite having been an adult in their past life. It was refreshing!
Next is part 2! I’m excited because part 2 definitely will have some more fluffy moments~
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